Archive for July, 2007
posted by Frank Pasquale
I have tried to give the administration the benefit of the doubt in previous postings on SCHIP, but recent developments are very troubling. If the economics related in this news story and this column are true, we may well face a true crisis of legitimacy. “9 in 10 Americans — including 83 percent of self-identified Republicans — support an expansion of the children’s health insurance program”–but the President still appears inclined to veto it.
posted by Frank Pasquale
The Oxford Press series on the seven deadly sins was a notable sign of the intellectual times. Many of the books argued that the so-called sin was not really so bad after all. For example, far from the menacing images of Bosch and Cadmus, Francine Prose’s essay on gluttony offered “a feast of fine writing on the sweetest sin of all.”
The Situationist’s recent series on appearance competition/indulgence brought Prose’s point to mind. For example, in the post on “Spas and Girls,” they note:
Teens spend some $9.7 billion a year on beauty products, and cosmetic and beauty aids are among the most advertised in teen magazines. Vanderbilt[ researcher Patricia] Gesell is afraid that exposure to beauty treatments at too young an age pushes girls to be older before their time.
But parents appear eager for some time with the kids, whatever its form: “That bonding time that used to happen over dinner is now happening over manicures and pedicures.”
The piece made me wonder: Are we edging toward a “transvaluation of values,” elevating the types of traits that used to be considered character flaws into strengths? Does a site like Ugly Outfits NYC essentially declare the lack of vanity a shortcoming?
posted by Daniel Solove
Leah Christensen (St. Thomas School of Law, MN) and Julie Oseid (St. Thomas, St. Thomas School of Law, MN) have posted on SSRN an article entitled Navigating the Law Review Article Selection Process: an Empirical Study of Those With All the Power—Student Editors. From the article:
The present study examines how law review editors at all levels of the law school “tier” system (e.g., Top 15, Top 25, Top 50, Top 100, Third Tier, Fourth Tier and Specialty Journals)13 weigh the importance of author credentials, topic, format, and timing of an article submission in making their selection decisions.
The study was based on a survey sent to student law review editors:
A qualitative survey methodology was adopted in order to access a large number of student editors, and to enable the editors’ responses to be compared across different groups and/or law school tiers. A 10 page self-completion survey was designed focusing on the following factors: author credentials; topic; title; star footnote; cover letter; reserved space; article format; timing of submission; review process; law review culture; “trading up;” and the “biggest surprise” about selecting articles for your journal. We left space for the editors to comment specifically about any one of the factors if they had additional information to provide.
Although the study found that most editors consider each of these factors to some degree, the data also suggests that the higher-ranked journals rely more heavily on author credentials than lower-ranked journals. Specifically, editors at higher-tiered law schools were highly influenced by where an author has previously published. Further, while not a single editor at a Top 15 school considered an author’s practice experience in making a publication decision, a majority of the editors at lower-tiered journals rated practice experience as an important factor in article selection. In addition, the study participants almost unanimously agreed that they were influenced by the topic of an article yet there were important differences among the law schools concerning the actual topics about which they would be most or least likely to publish.
One part of the article contains a week-by-week tally of number of article submissions to a Top 25 journal over the course of a year. The heaviest period of submissions was between February 20 and April 2 (the so-called “spring window”), with the busiest week being March 6-12, with 235 submissions. June and July were the slowest months. The fall window numbers were heaviest from August 7 to September 10, but the volume of submissions was not quite as high as the spring window — though it was not too much lower. Overall the journal received 2,219 submissions.
The article is filled with some very interesting data. It is definitely worth checking out.
posted by Daniel Solove
Having just compiled the census, I’m running into a difficulty. On several large group blogs, there are professors listed on the sidebar who have barely, if ever, made a post. This is especially true for large institutional blogs. The Georgetown Law Faculty Blog has only about 20 posts in all of 2007, mainly by Rebecca Tushnet and Randy Barnett, both of whom primarily blog elsewhere. However, there are 16 professors listed in the sidebar as authors. the University of Chicago Law School’s Faculty Blog has much more activity, as it is regularly updated, but it has 20 professors on the sidebar with only a fraction posting with any degree of regularity. This makes it difficult to tally the census, because these names on the sidebar — what I will call “deadwood bloggers” — are distorting the statistics in the census. In some sense, it is false advertising — the sidebar space is typically used for regular bloggers, but many blogs leave up names no matter how often a professor posts or no matter if a professor even posts at all.
I’ve asked Sam Yospe, our intern, to compile a list of deadwood bloggers. As a definition, I would list bloggers who haven’t posted in the past two months (since May 31). Is two months a fair threshold? The difficulty with requiring a longer amount of time is that it makes it harder to tally, as under the definition I propose, it requires going through two months of a blog’s postings. The problem with a shorter period of time is that it will eliminate a few professors who blog on very infrequent intervals — the occasional bloggers. So I think that two months is a fair time period. What do readers think? If anyone can send me names of professors on the census who haven’t blogged in the past two months, that would be very helpful. When the final version of the census comes out, they’ll be purged from the rolls. Unlike law faculties, there is no tenure in the blogosphere . . . or at least, not in my census.
posted by Daniel Solove
This raises all sorts of questions, most of which are none of my business:
* How much money are they making?
* How do the blog members split up the take?
* If they are sharing profits, they are now probably partners. Have they formed a corporation or LLC without my having noticed?
* Will all the contributors now switch to Aspen case books and treatises?
* Will this affect my book sales?
* As a career Foundation Press author, I probably don’t want Aspen as a sponsor, but how do I get Foundation to at least take out a few Blogads?
How much money are they making?
Just a few million dollars per year.
How do the blog members split up the take?
Daniel Solove — 90%
co-bloggers — 10%
If they are sharing profits, they are now probably partners. Have they formed a corporation or LLC without my having noticed?
We have formed an LLC. We announced it a while ago. How could you not know? Where have you been? It’s the biggest story to hit the legal blogosphere in 2007. This just shows that one has to visit our site at least several times a day to catch all the exciting details and developments at Concurring Opinions!
Will all the contributors now switch to Aspen case books and treatises?
I’ll be immediately switching to using the Aspen casebook, Information Privacy Law, for my privacy law course — solely because of this new deal with Aspen, of course.
Will this affect my book sales?
Hopefully, if you have casebooks with Aspen, sales will be up 300% as a result of the ads on our site.
As a career Foundation Press author, I probably don’t want Aspen as a sponsor, but how do I get Foundation to at least take out a few Blogads?
If they don’t take ads out on your site, threaten to switch to Aspen. You can check out all the great products they offer by clicking on our ads!
posted by Dave Hoffman
It is a Monday, and I thought you guys might be interested in some cross-disciplinary posting. (My Friday fun post having left you “baffled”.) So I invited Benjamin L. Carp, an Assistant Professor of History at Tufts University, to write up a little review of his new (and well-received) book from Oxford Press, Rebels Rising: Cities and the American Revolution. Ben has previously written articles on firefighters (sub. req.), nationalism (sub. req.), and the destruction of New York City (sub. req.) Ben’s comments on the book, which may intrigue ahistorical law prof types enough to motivate a purchase, follow after the jump.
posted by Kaimipono D. Wenger
You may have noticed that our sidebar has changed somewhat. In particular, we’ve added a few ads from our new sponsor, Aspen Publishers.
I’ve always had a favorable impression of Aspen. I actually use Aspen casebooks in three different classes that I teach: Dukeminier for Wills and Trusts; Gordon Smith for BA; Cox for Securities. It was really only coincidence that I ended up with all Aspen casebooks, since I reviewed lots of other books; but I’ve been quite pleased with them so far.
Until recently, though, I was completely unfamiliar with Aspen’s Study Desk products. I’m just poking around the site now, checking out a free trial download. The software is intended as a law student organizational tool, and has a lot of features for tasks like organizing class material. I don’t know enough about it at present to say much on the substantive level. However, I tend to like to use helpful technology where possible — I find that the right technology can help students learn concepts, to communicate with class, and so on, and I use tools like TWEN and Powerpoint to try to teach more effectively. And going forward, I’ll certainly be keeping my eye out for ways that my students might be able to potentially use Aspen Study Desk as well.
Another of our sidebar links leads to a collection of websites that provide updated material for some Aspen casebooks. Weirdly, there are no links to updates on the three Aspen books that I use — but there are links to updated material from a number of other Aspen casebooks (like Stone’s Con Law and Dukeminier’s property), in a nice central location.
And so, I’ve developed a new appreciation for Aspen as we join with them as a sponsor. Their website gives access to tools I hadn’t know existed, and I’ll be happy to examine these more as time goes on.
posted by Daniel Solove
There’s a new Internet celebrity in the making — the Turtle Zombie Boy. On YouTube, a brief news clip of a 10-year old boy at a fair, his face painted as a zombie, has become a mega hit. The reporter asks the boy: “You’re looking good, Jonathon. Jonathon just got an awesome face paint job. What do you think?” He responds: “I like turtles!”
From the Washington Post:
Which makes the fallout from his appearance seem like the purest possible form of inanity — meaninglessness squared. One fan spliced Jonathon into the guest spot of a recent and hostile interview conducted by Bill O’Reilly on “The O’Reilly Factor.” (An increasingly irate O’Reilly appears to grill Jonathon about Iran and he bats away each question with “I like turtles.”) Someone else did a Turtle Boy version of “The Shining,” wherein the word “SELTRUT” is painted on a door, instead of “REDRUM.” This list could go on and on.
This case resembles that of other Internet sensations, such as the Star Wars Kid — a young teenager whose awkward mimicry of a Star Wars character became one of the most widely viewed online videos of all time, with hundreds of millions tuning in and with scores of remixed videos being made.
I cannot resist making a shameless plug — I’ve written about some of the problems of unwitting Internet celebrities in my forthcoming book, The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet (Yale Univ. Press, Oct. 2007). Most often, their popularity stems from people laughing at them, not with them. Is there a problem with cases like the Turtle Zombie Boy? Or are people just having good fun online when they remix the clip?
I remain perplexed at why the Turtle Zombie Boy is so popular. The clip is funny, but not outrageously so. Why has it struck such a nerve online? What is it that turns something into such an Internet sensation? My book explores the implications of online gossip, rumor, and shaming for privacy and reputation. I don’t have an answer, though, for the questions above. It still makes little sense to me just why certain things become so popular online.
posted by Dave Hoffman
[UPDATES IN RED] With the assistance of our intern, Sam Yospe, I decided to update the law blog ranking project first completed by Roger Alford at Opinio Juris. The following list ranks 41 law professor blogs according to traffic (as calculated by The Truth Laid Bear). To minimize distortion, we applied average monthly data, and ran the measurements about two weeks ago. This list only includes blogs that have at least one law professor as a regular blogger, and we exclude blogs that focus entirely on politics or current events, and blogs that are not tracked by Truth Laid Bear. Some blogs, like Patently-O, appear to be tracked only inconsistently by TLB and are not included in this list for the time being.
While this list ranks blogs by traffic, we have also included Truth Laid Bear’s own weighted rankings. TLB ranks blogs using an algorithm that accounts for a “link score,” a measure of how often blogs are linked to by other blogs. While the ranking by traffic that appears below and TLB’s ranking are related, the correlation appears to be statistically insigificant. For example, Bainbridge ‘s blog is ranked second by TLB amongst legal blogs. Yet, by traffic it ranks ninth. Conversely, Sentencing Law and Policy is the ranked third amongst all legal blogs in traffic, yet it ranked 2,164 by TLB, a lower ranking than some legal blogs that receive less traffic.
These data suggest that there is significant heterogeneity in the audience of legal blogs, as some blogs seem to have wide audiences of readers not shared by others, and (indeed) exist in entirely different communal spaces. This fractured audience finding challenges my flat traffic thesis. Importantly, this post does not intend to suggest a thing about the relative quality of the blogs ranked, nor those that are not mentioned. This isn’t even a popularity contest.
posted by Sam Yospe
A Washington Post-ABC News Poll finds that a growing percentage of Americans think that the Supreme Court is too conservative.
Some counties are going to great lengths to find jurors.
If it reaches the Court, District of Columbia v. Heller may determine the meaning of the Second Amendment.
One man’s journey to law school and then away from the law.
posted by Frank Pasquale
My last three posts (on doctor rankings, SUV’s, and family-obligation discrimination) all have a common thread. They involve what economist Robert Frank calls “positional arms races”–efforts to attain a ranking or relative position whose value depends on how well others are doing.
Driving around in a small car isn’t so scary if everyone else has a small car–but if you’re in litte sedan and you’re surrounded by Escalades, you’re in trouble if there’s a crash (to put it precisely, at least four times more likely to die than if hit by a small car). Similarly, the workplace can often be a rat race with success judged by hours worked–and not necessarily quality of work, a far more difficult thing to measure. Finally, the doctor rankings are a purely positional good: no matter how good the bottom half gets, as long as the top half is better, it will always be known as the bottom half. Similarly, there are only 20 “Top 20″ law schools on any given ranking system; no matter how good the teaching & research gets among schools generally, there is an absolute limit on top spaces.
The mere fact of a positional arms race says nothing about the desirability of a given state of affairs. A well-designed doctor-ranking system might well lead to pay-for-performance rather than pay-for-procedure. Similarly, most law schools rely on a grading “curve” as a spur to excellence–even if it causes some anxiety.
But Robert Frank identifies a number of “arms races” that have hidden costs–both to those participating in them and those left behind.
posted by Daniel Solove
Professor Jay Brown (Denver College of Law) has posted on SSRN a paper entitled, Blogs, Law School Rankings, and the Race to the Bottom. According to the abstract:
Blogs can enhance reputation by allowing faculty to route around some of the biases in law review placements and SSRN rankings that favor those at the top tier schools. Blogs also represent a cost effective mechanism for advertising scholarly activity.
From the article:
The top 20 law schools had 22 faculty writing on the top 37 blogs or 20% of the total, compared with about 70% of the US faculty in the SSRN top 100. Moreover, the number probably overstated the influence of these schools in the blogosphere. Law schools ranked 21-50 contributed another 32 bloggers. The top 50 schools, therefore, were responsible for 49%, or less than half of the law faculty listed as contributors on the top blogs in Justia. This compares with about 87% of the US faculty in the top 100 of SSRN rankings.
The second tier contributed 35 faculty bloggers, the third tier eight, the fourth tier twelve, with one from an unranked law school, for a total of 56. These schools represented over half of all law faculty listed as contributors on the top blogs. This compares with about 13% in the top 100 of SSRN rankings, a number that overstates the success of these schools.
In other words, compared with SSRN downloads, the top 20 schools have at best a modest presence on the highest ranked blogs. In fact, it was the group aspiring to be in the top 20 that proportionately provided the most number of faculty bloggers. At the same time, law schools outside the top 50 have a strong presence.
Blogs can certainly enhance reputation, but a key issue is what constitutes reputation. If we are speaking of reputation in the sense of being well-known, then blogs certainly help. But if we are speaking of reputation in terms of being a quality scholar, the results are more mixed. Sometimes blogging can enhance a professor’s reputation; sometimes, it can detract. It all depends upon how a professor blogs.
posted by Virginia Law Review
His essay “aim[s] . . . not so much to defend the DOJ policy as to deflate the dominant criticisms and to refocus the debate.” He argues that “[t]he critics [of the Holder, Thomson, and McNulty Memos] seek to lay at the feet of the DOJ policy problems whose primary causes lie elsewhere, in places the critics may be reluctant to have us look.”
Professor Cohen writes further:
In Gonzales v. Carhart (Carhart II), the Court delivered a setback to a woman’s right to choose by affirming the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 (“Ban Act”). In doing so, however, the Court enlarged the scope of congressional power. The Court deferred to Congress’s factual findings and allowed Congress to determine for itself that an exception for the health of the mother was unnecessary. This deference, although disheartening in Carhart II, is promising for future civil rights legislation.
In Brief’s next issue, scheduled for publication on August 6, will feature two essays on the subject of the legal response to recent mass catastrophes:
- Professor Kenneth S. Abraham (U.Va. Law) will publish an essay on the Hurricane Katrina insurance claims.
- Kenneth R. Feinberg will publish an essay comparing the approaches toward victim compensation that were taken following 9/11 and the Virginia Tech shootings.
posted by Dave Hoffman
I’m pleased to announce that Professor Scott Burris will be joining us for the next month as a guest blogger.
Scott is the James E. Beasley Professor of Law at the Beasley School of Law of Temple University, and Associate Director of the Center for Law and the Public’s Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. He began his career in public health law during the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. He was the editor of the first systematic legal analysis of HIV in the United States, AIDS and the Law: A Guide for the Public (Yale University Press, 1987), and spent several years lobbying and litigating on behalf of people with HIV as an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union. Since joining the Temple faculty in 1991, his research has focused on how law influences public health and health behavior.
He is the author of over 100 books, book chapters, articles and reports on issues including discrimination against people with HIV and other disabilities; HIV policy; research ethics; and the health effects of criminal law and drug policy. His current research topics include health governance, the regulation of sexual behavior, harm reduction and human research subject protection. He has been particularly interested in developing theory and methods aimed at promoting effective local health governance. His work has been supported by organizations including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
He has served as a consultant on public health law with organizations ranging from the United Nations Development Programme and the American Psychological Association to the Institute of Medicine and the producers of the Oscar-winning film “Philadelphia.” He is a member of the Law, Policy and Ethics Core of the Center for Interdiscplinary Research on AIDS at Yale, and serves as an advisor to the Tsinghua University AIDS Institute, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Research Center for HIV/AIDS Public Policy and the Program in Bioethics at Monash University. Burris is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and the Yale Law School.
- AIDS AND THE LAW: A GUIDE FOR THE PUBLIC (Yale University Press, 1987) (editor, with Harlon L. Dalton & the Yale AIDS/Law Project)
- Nodal Governance, 30 AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF LEGAL PHILOSOPHY 30 (2005) (with Drahos and Shearing)
- The Law and the Public’s Health: A Study of Infectious Disease Law in the United States, 99 COLUMBIA L. REV. 59 (1999) (with Gostin & Lazzarini)
- Burris, S., K. M. Blankenship, M. Donoghoe, S. Sherman, J. S. Vernick, P. Case, Z. Lazzarini, and S. Koester. 2004. Addressing the “Risk Environment” for Injection Drug Users: The Mysterious Case of the Missing Cop. Milbank Quarterly 82:125-156.
- Burris, S. 1997. The Invisibility of Public Health: Population-level Measures in a Politics of Market Individualism. American Journal of Public Health 87:1607-1610.
posted by Frank Pasquale
There’s a must-read NYT Mag. piece on Joan Williams, who has done amazing work to restore “work/life balance” to lawyers and employees generally. As the piece notes, “in the United States today, working parents receive supports and benefits that in much of the developed world would be considered scandalously ungenerous.” Williams’s book Unbending Gender has advanced lawsuits combating “workplace discrimination because of family care-giving obligations:”
Williams argued that the growing tension between work and family was not simply a product of economic necessity. It stemmed, rather, from a marketplace structured around an increasingly outdated masculine norm: the “ideal worker” who can work full time for an entire career while enjoying “immunity from family work.” At a time when both adults in most families had come to participate in the labor force, Williams argued that this standard was unrealistic, especially for women, who remained the primary caregivers in most households.
Williams’s focus has also helped extend antidiscrimination law beyond “so-called ‘glass ceiling’ cases involving women barred from the top rungs of a handful of elite professions,” to plaintiffs who “have ranged across the occupational spectrum, from physicians to police officers to grocery clerks.” It’s good to see that a law prof can help spur the EEOC to take the problems of working parents seriously, even as some in DC are unwilling to offer the most basic supports provided by our OECD peers.
posted by Frank Pasquale
Recently the spokesman for SUV Owners of America (SUVOA), Ron DeFore, was interviewed by the Washington Post. One exchange was particularly telling. The interviewer conceded that SUV’s may increase the safety of their owners, but increased rates of death for those in smaller cars. DeFore replied:
[T]here has always been a difference in the sizes of vehicles in our fleet. Should people who prefer smaller vehicles have the right to regulate what the rest of us drive? Ask this question: Would we have fewer fatalities if everyone drove compact cars, or if everyone drove SUVs? The answer is SUVs. The more metal you have, the more crash protection you have.
I think his assertions about the safety of those within the SUV are unwarranted. But let’s just assume for the moment that he’s right. Studies like Michelle White’s (in the Journal of Law and Economics) show that “each crash involving fatalities of light-truck or SUV occupants that is prevented comes at a cost of at least 4.3 additional crashes that involve deaths of car occupants, pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists.” So are we really ready to sacrifice 4.3 non-SUV drivers for every SUV driver that is saved? White’s study concludes that “the safety benefit of substituting cars for light trucks and SUVs on the road is found to be similar in magnitude to the benefit of seat belts.”
Note the cruel dilemma the increasing number of SUV’s poses for parents. If you buy one, you’re helping to protect your family, but you’re contributing to roadway conditions that worsen the plight of those that can’t afford one. If you don’t buy one, you’re virtuous, but putting yourself at more risk should you ever get run into by an SUV.
Some countries know how to ameliorate these dilemmas, by, for instance, imposing “special excise taxes on the purchase of [SUVs], higher registration fees, tighter gas mileage standards . . . freeway tolls based on vehicle size, and higher gasoline taxes generally.” Unfortunately, an administration that seems deadset against internalizing such externalities (aided by some rustbelt Dems) seems unlikely to do much to stop the SUV epidemic. Perhaps eventually it will see it as a religious issue.
posted by Frank Pasquale
As lawyer-ratings sites start to proliferate, there are some important lessons to be learned from the more-established practice of doctor-ratings. Such sites aim to give medical “consumers” a better sense of how well practitioners perform–welcome knowledge in a world of uneven care. But it turns out that “gamers” have exposed several shortcomings in their early iterations.
On the positive side, the WaPo reports that “data-driven surveillance offers the prospect of using incentives to steer patients to care that is both effective and sensibly priced.” However, physicians “say that the data often contain errors and that doctors often lack the ability to correct them.” Conflicts proliferate, including “a lawsuit in Seattle, a physician revolt in St. Louis and a demand by a state attorney general that one insurer halt its planned program.” Given the breadth of the HCQIA safe harbors, I have a sense that physicians are not going to find it easy to deter questionable rankings sites.
The new rankings craze can also provide incentives for doctors to shun the sickest patients–or even to perform unnecessary procedures during a routine surgery in order to manipulate them.
posted by Dave Hoffman
Check out this bizarre story: a wikipedia administrator allegedly has distorted editing of the site’s article on the Entebbe operation, because, this site alleges, she is a spy for an unidentified national government.
Believable? Who knows. I’ve got to think that a spy agency that spends its human capital editing wikipedia entries instead of, say, finding the nation’s enemies and introducing them to targeted justice, has a misplaced set of priorities. Even if the agency were to suppress, in one medium, some aspect of the “truth” about its activities, the internet is like a vast gopher game: suppress a fact here, and it pops up there.
posted by William McGeveran
Sad news from the supermarket checkout line the other day: Weekly World News is ceasing production. (Hat tip: Threat Level). Now that the National Enquirer and Star have moved slightly upmarket to reach the bottom rung of the celebrity gossip ladder, just below InTouch and Hello! (and not all that far from People and Us Weekly), WWN was the sole survivor of the old “supermarket tabloid” realm. It was also unique in its cheerful and utter fabrication of ridiculous stories (as opposed to the slightly surreptitious and partial fabrication at the other tabloids). A bizarrely comprehensive Wikipedia entry captures the full range of its odd topics, from Bat-Boy to UFOs. I also fondly remember the woman who was electrocuted by static cling.
There is a famous WWN story in my family: my little brother, aged 8 or 9, burst into the apartment after an errand to the grocery store. “Mom! Mom!” he shouted. “They’ve found mermaids off the Catalina coast!” Brief cross-examination uncovered the source of his news, and he was crestfallen and a little mystified when my mother explained the fuller media context. That story always makes me a little sad — a young boy’s loss of innocence. (This was not, I probably should add, the brother who became a newspaper editor.)
It was the internet that killed WWN, I assume. Why wait for a weekly dead-tree dose of weirdness when a tsunami of similar free content awaited at all times, and without all that smudgy ink to boot? WWN’s own web site launched too late and it no longer stood out in that vast ocean the way it did while you waited for the cashier to finish bagging groceries for the guy in front of you. Besides, over time tastes in fake news moved on from the WWN formula of [(John Waters x Bill O'Reilly) + The X Files] to detached, ironic, decidedly more left-leaning and upmarket venues such as the Onion and the Daily Show. The Weekly World News retained the air of a slightly disturbed old guy with a handshake buzzer and a fair amount of actual paranoia and credulousness. But still a really sweet guy. I love Jon Stewart, but you sure can’t say that about him.
posted by Melissa Waters
The Wall Street Journal blog has an entertaining post/discussion this week about the frenzied market for judicial clerks. (My thanks to Brian Leiter for calling my attention to the WSJ post.) The post discusses a recent survey conducted by Judge Richard Posner, Christopher Avery, Christine Jolls, and Alvin Roth as part of an update to their 2001 Chicago law review article on the federal clerkship hiring process. (The paper is available for download at SSRN.) The authors surveyed recent graduates at Yale, Chicago, Harvard, and Stanford who applied for clerkships in 2004 or 2005. The survey offers up all sorts of interesting (though not particularly surprising) statistics, suggesting that the 2003 changes to the clerkship hiring guidelines have been less than successful: Over a third of those surveyed received interview offers before the “official” guidelines permit, one quarter interviewed with judges before they were supposed to, and 12% received job offers from judges who had jumped the gun on the official start date for offers. On the WSJ blog, recent law graduates have weighed in with their own horror stories about the clerkship hiring process.
The clerkship hiring frenzy is certainly not a new phenomenon. I’m reminded of the experience of a Yale law school classmate back in the late 90s. The student got a call from a judge who said, “IF I were to make you an offer right now – and I’m not saying that I am – but IF I were to make you an offer right now, how long would it take you to accept it?” Dumbfounded, the student replied, “Uh, well … I suppose I could let you know within the hour?” Dead silence on the other end of the line. The student said, “Judge X? Are you still there, Judge X?” Another long pause. And finally, the judge replied, “Hold on. I’m THINKING.”
I told this story to my father, who as a federal judge in Arkansas had been hiring clerks for over twenty years. (For the most part, he opted out of the process entirely by hiring (generally superb) clerks from the University of Arkansas. As a trial judge, he took the view that his clerks should have a feel for the people and a respect for the local culture – and that gave local graduates a decided edge.) My father was amazed that other federal judges would engage in (in his words) “such nonsense.” “I just don’t get it,” he said, shaking his head. “Why do they care so much who they hire? The job is not rocket science — any decent lawyer can do it. And besides … you’re a bunch of damn kids!”